Exodus 5 – YHWH Said There’d Be Days Like This

Exodus 5 Bible with Simple Truth Organic 71 percent Cacao Baobab Dark Chocolate

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Today’s PassageExodus 5

Moses probably didn’t expect Pharaoh to release the Israelites without some resistance. But I don’t think he expected Pharaoh to make things worse.

God warned Moses the liberation wouldn’t go easy. He’s already told him, “I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion” (3:19), promising to hit Egypt with enough miracles to make the Egyptians want to pay to get the Israelites out. He also warns Moses, “I will harden [Pharaoh’s] heart so that he will not let the people go” (4:21). It’s not going to happen until God takes the firstborn son of the Pharaoh for his recalcitrance. If Moses was paying attention, he knew to expect a process. But God didn’t exactly forecast that the process would almost immediately take a dive into the Worse Than Before Pit.

First of all, Pharaoh fusses at Moses and Aaron for trying to get the people out of work. He requires the Israelites to make the same amount of bricks per day, but he stops providing straw for them; they have to gather their own straw. And when the Israelites inevitably fall behind, he has them beaten (5:14) and verbally abuses them, calling them lazy (5:17). The name of the Lord means nothing to him (5:2), and when faced with the command to release the Israelites, he doubles down on oppressing them with labor.

Second, the Israelites themselves blame Moses for their increased affliction. They berate him: “May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us” (5:21). Where is this going to end? Will Pharaoh decide the Israelites are a liability, better off dead? One man purported to speak for them, and now they’re all suffering for it. Pharaoh doesn’t like Moses, and now Moses’ own people don’t like Moses.

So Moses goes to the God who sent him. He prays in frustration, “Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all” (5:22-23). He’s got questions. He wants to know the reason that God’s let things go from bad to worse. He doesn’t understand why this is happening or how it’s going to end up like God promised. Maybe he didn’t think it’d happen overnight, but he certainly wasn’t anticipating this.

That said, I think it’s worth noting what Moses doesn’t say. He doesn’t quit; he doesn’t even threaten to quit. He doesn’t tell God to go stick his worthless liberation plan in the toilet. He doesn’t attack God or throw the whole situation in his face–okay, maybe there’s a little of that last one. But on the whole, he’s just got a lot of disappointment and questions, and he’s not afraid to bring that to God.

I’ve been where Moses is, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you have too. If you’re there right now, frusty and disappointed with a situation that unexpectedly went even further south than before, perhaps even further south than you thought it could, tell God about it. Ask him your questions. Talk to him about it, and see what happens.

And we’ll see what happens with God’s response to Moses in the next chapter.

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